CROWDS flocked to the seafront today to enjoy the good weather, despite restrictions and warnings to stay away.

Brighton and Hove City Council said wardens would restrict access to the beach between East Street and West Street.

It followed fears of the rising popularity of takeaway food, drinks, ice creams and alcohol being available.

But despite a slow start, the numbers going to the beach steadily grew throughout the day.

The Argus:

The scene shortly before noonThe Argus:

Crowds on the Madeira Drive side of the beach

The Argus saw that parts of the beach where wardens were sent were quieter, but nearby there were crowds waiting to go to the toilet and gathering near seafront businesses.

Many went to the beach at Madeira Terrace, while at Hove Lawns crowds were also seen gathering.

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PCSOs out on patrolThe Argus:

Some sections on the beach were quieter than others

There was also some concern with swimmers and bathers going into the water, despite warning flags telling people not to do so, as there is no lifeguard service in place.

Previously 86 per cent of Argus readers voting in an online poll said they supported the council’s decision to try to restrict access to the beach at its busiest spot.

The authority said there had been problems with “nuisance, urination and littering issues”.

The Argus:

But a look in a different direction told a different storyThe Argus:

The numbers at the beach grew steadily as the day went on

“There is no doubt that part of the attraction for people to visit the seafront and beach is due to many premises now offering takeaway food, soft drinks and alcohol, especially those on the lower promenade at King’s Road Arches,” the authority said.

“This is exacerbating the issues of crowding and groups gathering, in direct contravention of the legislation and Government’s guidelines on physical distancing.”

Wardens will continue to patrol the entrances to the seafront between noon and 9pm each day.

The Argus:

Bathers tested the chilly waters

The Argus:

Groups gathered at Hove Lawns

The Argus:

There were long queues for toilets

Lifeguards normally patrol the city’s beaches from the end of May until the end of the school holidays in September, but the coronavirus pandemic means the council has not been able to recruit them.

More toilets were set to open, but seafront businesses are not allowed to open their facilities because of Government rules.

Councillor Carmen Appich, chairwoman of the council’s tourism committee appealed for visitors to stay away.

She said: “We urge anyone thinking of travelling to the city to consider very carefully how their journey will impact on others.”

“We miss our visitors and are desperately looking forward to the day we can get back to being the welcoming and vibrant destination we’re best known for but right now it is not business as usual in Brighton and Hove.”